Why White Papers Are So Damn Good at Converting
White papers have served as a relevant, influential form of content marketing since the 19th century. While other marketing strategies have come and gone, white papers show no signs of going anywhere. Not only have they survived through the technological revolution, but they have also weathered the changes in how we consume content.
In this article, you will learn why white papers are so good at converting, how companies can improve upon their white papers, and what companies should be doing to deploy white papers in their content marketing.
Why White Papers Convert
White papers offer in-depth information about a problem in an industry that interested parties are looking to understand. They also offer a practical solution to this problem in the form of a product or service. They are meant to educate buyers through the Evaluation Stage by providing in-depth information on a specific subject, advocate for a solution, and make a company be seen as a subject matter expert (SME). As a result, white papers are ranked #2 in terms of the most influential content buyers read before making a purchase, just behind product brochures and data sheets.
When done well, white papers are able to make your brand more persuasive and bring about meaningful change as your platform and influence increases. They can boost your brand’s exposure within your industry, media, and other critical circles. They can also increase your brand’s strategic visibility. In short, a well-crafted white paper makes your clients, customers, partners, and investors feel more confident in your brand.
White papers have no time for fluff. They are carefully crafted documents full of quantitative data written in an academic format. They are the thick textbooks of marketing: they’re not always the most fun to read, but if your company is looking to make a significant business decision, you are grateful that they exist because of the breadth of information they provide.
However, this doesn’t mean that the white paper hasn’t evolved in its own ways. Modern-day white papers are often filled with infographics, images and videos, and interactive content.
White paper designs and templates have also gotten more modern. Here are a few examples from Venngage that you may find useful.
How Companies Can Create or Make Their White Papers Better
First, companies need to understand what a White Paper is and what it isn’t:
A white paper isn’t like a research paper, it’s like your graduate thesis or capstone project. It requires a lot of in-depth information complete with credible data to back up every one of your claims. By writing a white paper, your company is looking to become the SME of your industry.
Carefully plan your White Paper, and take your time writing it. This is a document that will be valid for your company for at least a year or two and then revised to remain relevant. Make sure that it goes the approval from your company’s most scrutinous of editors, and don’t consider it a completed project until you are 100% satisfied with it.
Given the importance of this document, the amount of time it may take to put together all of the relevant information, and the writing skills necessary to create a well-crafted White Paper, many companies find that their best solution is to outsource writing one.
This is what should be included in every white paper:
- Market trends and changes in your industry that make your product necessary (without actually selling your product)
- Statistics, expert testimony, and quotes from industry professionals
- Fully explore what your target audience’s key challenges, more so than a web page or brochure would do
- Create a list of things to consider that is well-rounded and thoroughly discusses the problem at hand, potential solutions, and market drivers
- At the very end, pitch why your product can help your audience. *Note: this isn’t the bulk of your white paper, merely the last page or two.
What Companies Should Be Doing to Market Their White Papers
Once a white paper is created, it should be marketed, so that leads in the later stages of the marketing funnel can evaluate them during their buyer’s journey. Here are a few ways to do just that:
Direct Email Campaigns and Newsletters: Email has an average ROI of 122%, which is more than four times higher than other marketing formats like direct social and social media. Feature your white paper in your newsletter or as a downloadable PDF in your next e-mail marketing campaign.
Free Gift: Promote your white paper as a ‘free gift’ or ‘downloadable content’ on your website. If you want to get something out of it in return, offer your white paper as a gift that someone gets when subscribing to your site or e-mail list
Press Releases: Promote it as part of a press release complete with a link to your white paper, landing page, or site where the white paper is easily accessible. Press releases are submitted to search engines, social platforms, and industry journals and allow for a broad reach and more potential leads. On average, press releases generate traffic that is 38.9% less expensive than comparable traffic from a PPC campaign.
Reach Out: Contact influential bloggers, editors, and industry experts who work with or cater to your target market and pitch your white paper to them.
Social Media: 83% of B2B marketers use social media as a content marketing vehicle. Promote your white paper on your various platforms, again offering it as an ‘extra’ or ‘gift.’
Utilize Your Sales Team: Give it to your sales team to help them further nurture leads.
No matter what you are selling, a white paper is an excellent addition to your content arsenal. Not only does it make you appear to be an SME, but just about 2/3rds of B2B marketers actually use them. This will give you a significant advantage over your competitors that don’t. Keep that in mind for the next time you are spearheading a marketing campaign.